STCP in the Cocoa Livelihoods Program

Cocoa seedlings ready for distribution to growers in a community nursery established by IITA/STCP. Photo by Richard Asare, IITA.
Cocoa seedlings ready for distribution to growers in a community nursery established by IITA/STCP. Photo by Richard Asare, IITA.

This year, our Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) was tapped to be part of a multi-sector consortium to implement the US$40 million, 5-year Cocoa Livelihoods Program (CLP). The CLP, managed by the World Cocoa Foundation, aims to improve the livelihoods of approximately 200,000 cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Liberia by addressing marketing and production inefficiencies, income diversification, and farming technology/innovations.

The program was first announced in February 2009. Activities began following intensive site selection that we led in consultation with public and private sector partners in the project countries. We would also be training cocoa farmers in production practices and quality management through innovative approaches such as Farmer Field School, Farmer-to-Farmer training, and Video Viewing Clubs.

We would develop and validates a new training approach that would help rehabilitate existing cocoa farms through the proper establishment of productive systems of high yielding, fertilizer-responsive varieties. We will also develop distribution systems for improved planting material in the five countries by facilitating the establishment of commercial and on-farm nurseries, and clonal budwood gardens for rehabilitation through grafting. These nurseries will serve as sources of high-yielding planting material for cocoa and other crops and trees.

To ensure that the nurseries are supplied with the best available cocoa, timber, plantain, and cassava planting materials, we would develop a community-level brokerage service that would link communities and commercial nurseries to various suppliers. We will also explore the Farmer Organization and the Business Service Center approaches to ensure the availability and accessibility of input supply for farmers.

We are currently conducting a market opportunity study in the five countries to analyze diversification opportunities in local, regional, and international markets using a common economic and financial analytical framework. The study covers cocoa, cassava, and plantain and their associated inputs, with other key country-specific commodities also to be considered. It would provide vital market information to reduce the risk of an income shock on the economies of these countries and its spillover impact on cocoa-growing communities.

We are also responsible for managing the Performance Monitoring Coordination Unit (PMCU) of the CLP. The PMCU coordinates the monitoring activities of the five technical partners to ensure consistency and accuracy of data collected. The PMCU will maintain a centralized information database, and provide data to partners as needed to promote informed decision-making within the program.

The CLP is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and 14 chocolate industry companies. Aside from IITA/STCP, the other four implementing partners include Agribusiness Services International – an ACDI/VOCA affiliate, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Société de coopération pour le développement international (SOCODEVI), and TechnoServe. The program has been launched in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, and is expected to be launched in Cameroon and Liberia soon.